SEO is all about creating a great experience for people visiting your website, or seeing your snippet in the search results. That’s why a lot of your SEO efforts will likely be focused on things like content, UX and pagespeed. Efforts that help you optimize your page or website overall. As they should be! They help you become the best search result for search engines and people alike. However, there are also a few things outside of your website that you should not forget about. An important one being link building. In this post, we’ll discuss the 6 steps to create a successful link building strategy for any business.
Grow your traffic with link building
In a nutshell, link building is the act of getting other websites to link to your page. The reason why you should invest some time into this is because these links are important for SEO. They help your pages rank higher in the search results. But that’s not the only thing they do:
A good link, first and foremost, drives traffic to your site.
Other websites linking to your page will help in getting more (referral) traffic to your site. This grows your overall traffic and brings new people into contact with your website. To make sure these efforts aren’t in vain, it’s good to think about which websites would make sense in linking to your pages. You want people who are visiting that website to also enjoy yours when they’re being directed there, but we’ll go into that further one.
An important note is that link building should always be done from a holistic SEO perspective. Meaning that you should focus on getting quality backlinks that will actually generate traffic for your website. In addition, it means staying away from bad practices as these can hurt your rankings.
The 6 steps of a successful link building strategy
1. Really get to know your audience
To get an idea of what websites would ideally link to yours, you first need to have insights into who your audience is. You might have a hunch of who your audience is, but you’ll be surprised how often that doesn’t match with reality. Make sure to do some research and analyze your audience to get to know them. This can help you retain your current audience and perhaps even reach new audiences that might be interested in what you’re offering. All of this also gives you a better idea of other websites they might be interested in. If it feels natural, you can even ask them about other websites that they frequent.
To give you an example, say you run an online store with loads of craft materials. and blog about new craft ideas now and then. User research could give you the insight that a large part of your audience is parents looking for fun crafts to do with their kids. This could give you the idea to reach out to websites listing fun activities to do with kids. Something you wouldn’t have done if you did not know about that segment of your target audience. Or to give an example closer to home, at Yoast, we started with an audience that consisted mainly of WordPress developers. However, we wanted to broaden our audience to a more general group of WordPress users without losing our initial audience. So we created additional content that caters to our new audience and went to work to get links from other websites where these people can be found.
2. Create a list of sites that your audience visits
When you know more about your audience and, you can create a list of websites that will help you reach them. Use your research to find the websites that appeal to these people. Because links from these websites can help you reach your audience, especially if they don’t know about your website yet. Do pay attention whether there’s a logical connection to be made between you and a website on the list. This increases your chances of getting the link and is better for SEO as well. A link from a website that has absolutely nothing to do with your niche is not valuable when it comes to your position in the search results.
In addition, I want to note that a link from a spammy website is also not going to do you any good. These links can even backfire and hurt your rankings as Google is absolutely not a fan of bad link building practices. So stay away from spammy websites, paying for your links and other link building DON’Ts. Link building isn’t just a trick or something you can throw money at. Getting these links should feel like a normal marketing effort and part of a holistic SEO approach.
3. Write great content
To get other websites to link to your content, you need to have content that makes them want to link to your content. Which means that you need to create quality content. Content that appeals to your audience, is helpful and that showcases your unique point of view. If you sell products or services, don’t just write about why they’re awesome and why they should buy them. Write content that answers a question that your audience has or solves a problem they’re facing. Don’t center it around your product or service. Make your content genuinely helpful and show your expertise on the topic. This will not only build trust and authority, but you’ll also get more links to your page as other websites will see the value of your content.
To give an example: Let’s say you sell garden tools like lawnmowers. Instead of writing a blog post on why your lawnmower is the best one out there, write blog posts on topics like ‘How to get your garden ready for the summer’. Or if you sell furniture, write an article on the latest trends in interior design. This type of content is a lot more shareable for other people outside your company. Which will increase your chances of getting relevant links. If you need some guidance on creating quality content, we have lots of blog posts on content SEO and an SEO copywriting training course.
When you’re a blogger or (aiming to be) an expert in your field, another option is guest blogging. This not only builds your authority, it’s a great way to get more links to your website. Often enough, blogs are looking for input from fellow bloggers and in return will let you link to your own content. This gets you a great link to your website and the opportunity to bring yourself into contact with their audience. Growing your reach.
Once again, be tactical in the websites you choose to partner up with. They should be trustworthy and relevant to your own website to get any real value out of it. Visit your favorite blogs, or blogs that are similar to yours, and check to see if they’re open to guest submissions. They’ll usually mention this on their contact or collaboration page.
4. Match content to the right website
When you’re happy with the content you’ve written, it’s time to dive into the list of websites you’ve made during the 2nd step. Which websites on there will be likely to link to which piece of content? You may be tempted to just send everything that you’ve created to everyone, but this will hurt your chances of anyone linking to your content. You will come across as spammy and you can’t ask those people to read 5 blog posts and decide which one they like.
Also good to know: if you have a long tail keyword approach (writing about small and niche subjects) the number of websites that are a good fit will be smaller. This isn’t a bad thing, as very specific content can mean that this smaller number of websites is more willing to link to your content. It can also mean that readers will appreciate your content even more, as there’s less of the same content out there and they’ll be eager to know more about your business.
5. Reach out in a personal way
After figuring out which content to send to whom, it’s time to reach out to them. You can always send an email, but social media like X/Twitter or LinkedIn are also a great way to contact people directly. To increase your chances of getting their attention, make sure to do your homework. Use your audience research and what you know about the website to personalize your message. Never send out automated emails or direct messages. Send them a polite message in which you tell them about your content, why you feel it would be of value for their audience and request them to place a link to your content. Please note that often, you will not get a reply at all.
To improve your chances, you need to explain why your content is unique. Trying to get a link for a very general blog post that could’ve been written by anyone, is less likely to succeed than unique content. Content that people can only find on your website. That being said, don’t make your message too long, as this will result in people not reading it at all. If you’re not sure where to start, you can also contact your business partners. They will probably be active in a field that’s related to yours and they’ll be more willing to link to your site (as you already know them personally). Just make sure that the backlink is relevant and doesn’t feel forced. Like I said before, link building should always feel natural.
6. Extend your reach through social media
Reaching out to specific people or websites is one way to get links to your content. Another option is to share your content on social media. This can also lead to other people sharing your content, which helps you extend your reach. And a wider reach gives you a higher chance of people linking to you on their websites as well. When people like, share and talk about your content on social media, you’re bound to reach new audiences and receive some more links as well.
Conclusion: link building is a growth strategy
A successful link building strategy should always be aimed at getting new people into contact them with your website. A (welcome) side effect of proper link building is a higher ranking in Google. As long as you consider link building as a way to reach out to other sites to get more visitors that will genuinely enjoy your content, you’re doing it right. Lots of luck!
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